Betty Dukes took Wal­mart to court in gen­der bias law­suit

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OBITUARIES/NEWS -

The Wal­mart greeter who took the re­tail gi­ant all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the largest gen­der bias class-ac­tion law­suit in U.S. his­tory has died, a fam­ily mem­ber said Tues­day.

Betty Dukes died July 10 at her home in An­ti­och, Cal­i­for­nia, said her niece, Rita Roland. Dukes was 67.

“She was a very tough lady, very driven and pas­sion­ate about what she be­lieved in. She was per­sua­sive. She just didn’t want to tell her point, she wanted you to have an un­der­stand­ing so you could come to the same con­clu­sions that she had,” Roland said.

As the lead plain­tiff in Dukes v. Wal­mart, she al­leged in the 2001 law­suit that the com­pany vi­o­lated the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which made it il­le­gal for em­ploy­ers to dis­crim­i­nate on the ba­sis of race, creed or gen­der.

Dukes said Wal­mart sys­tem­i­cally paid women less than male coun­ter­parts and pro­moted men to higher po­si­tions at faster rates than women. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011, where it was dis­missed. But Roland said the dis­missal was not in vain for her aunt.

“The one thing I do know is the work that she did is fluid. It has not stopped,” said the Mil­pi­tas woman who of­ten trav­elled with Dukes when she was work­ing on the case. “She was one of many voices fight­ing for the same cause.”

An or­dained min­is­ter, Dukes’ faith was the foun­da­tion for ev­ery­thing she did, in­clud­ing tak­ing on the re­tail gi­ant, Roland said.

“She be­lieved in help­ing peo­ple,” Roland said.

In her off time, Dukes helped or­ga­nize com­mu­nity ban­quets with speak­ers cel­e­brat­ing Martin Luther King Day, Black His­tory Month and the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

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